Hunter turned Hunted as centre looks to cement Wallabies spot

Tue, Jul 9, 2024, 5:17 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright speak after the win over Wales

Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami is eager to retain his starting spot after reflecting on his return to the starting side.

Paisami was one of several returning faces in the nine-point win over Wales in Sydney, having missed the 2023 Test season.

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The Reds centre won his way back into the squad after a revitalised 2024 under coach Les Kiss, turning himself into an all-round attacking threat.

Now, the job is for Paisami to be a consistent member of the set-up under Joe Schmidt as he focuses on enjoying his Rugby, with the likes of Hamish Stewart and Joey Walton putting pressure on the 25-cap Wallaby.

"It’s a goal of mine each week (to retain that jersey) but I’m just keen to enjoy it while I’m here," he said to reporters.

"I know I can get my prep right during the week I can go out there and do my job for the team, be myself on the field.

"Missing the World Cup was disappointing but the biggest thing for me is to enjoy and have fun whilst I’m out there...This is the year that I enjoyed my footy the most and that’s down to the way Les and the crew at Ballymore bought into the environment."

Paisami sees the similarities between the two coaches, who worked together when Schmidt was the Irish coach.

"From the Reds to the Wallabies, I find Les (Kiss) and Joe (Schmidt) very similar," he explained.

"Joe loves his little cross-field kicks and you can see he’s passed that on to Ireland and the Kiwis as well."

“He wants the ball to get there ASAP so that was part of our game plan but we’ve got to pick the right moments when to do that.” 

The Wallabies are wary of a fired-up Wales, who are hunting their first win of the season after eight straight defeats.

“With the Wales defence, they like to get up high on the edge so a lot of the review is around getting tight and connect a bit more with our tens," Paisami added on the defensive changes.

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